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Mumbai court refuses relief to former Tops Group chief, promoter arrested in 2020

The accused's argument was based on the recent Supreme Court judgement that said that a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act cannot continue if there is no prior FIR registered by another agency.

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The court said that the statutory period for the EOW to appeal is still pending (Representational)

By Vidya : A special court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has rejected the pleas for relief filed by former managing director of Tops Group M Sasidharan and its promoter Amit Chandole, who were arrested in 2020.

Chandole, a close aide of Shiv Sena leader Pratap Sarnaik who is now siding with Eknath Shinde and is in alliance with the BJP in the state, along with Sasidharan, had sought their release from prison, stating that the predicate offence against them had come to a close.

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This argument was based on the recent Supreme Court judgement that said that a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cannot continue if there is no prior FIR registered by another agency.

As per the PMLA provisions, a prior “scheduled offence” or a predicate offence is a requisite for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to initiate action against a person. The ED had registered its complaint on the basis of a case registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police.

However, the EOW filed a closure report in January 2022 before a magistrate's court saying there was no evidence of crime. The Esplanade Magistrate court accepted the C-summary report for closure last week. Thus, the accused then moved the court of special PMLA Judge MG Deshpande, seeking a discharge on the ground that proceedings in the ED case cannot continue.

Special Public Prosecutor Kavita Patil, representing the ED, opposed the plea and submitted that the closure report of the EOW cannot be said to be final as long as the time for filing an appeal against it does not get over.

Judge Deshpande, after hearing both sides, rejected the applications of Chandole and Sasidharan and said that the statutory period for the EOW to appeal is still pending. The detailed order will be made available by the court soon.

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